Seven steps to writing a killer application brief

So you've got an amazing idea for your app but you're not sure how to start?

The first step is to get all your thoughts in order by creating a comprehensive product brief for your application. This will help kick-start conversations with prospective technology partners and will also be useful in putting together an information pack for funding partners.

Step 1: Describe the idea

A great way to get started is to try and describe the application in one sentence. You can do that using the following template

This application helps [Core Audience], perform [Core Function], to [solve Core Problem]/[achieve Core Objective]

Step 2: Describe your core audience

To ensure the best user experience, it important that your development team have a really clear understanding of the audience they are designing the solution for. The more detail and insight you can provide about your intended audience, the easier it will be to home in on the ideal feature-set, and a design that your users will love.

Step 3: Consider the user journey

Describe how the application will work as users would explore it.  The first steps might be registration and then logging in. Then describe what the user will see or be able to do when they arrive on the Home Screen and the screens which follow. Wireframes are great here, but don't worry about polish - hand drawn is absolutely fine.

Step 4: Research the competition

It's pretty rare for an idea to be 100% unique and you can therefore often find applications that already exist which deliver some of the functionality you're planning.  Listing these applications out along with what you like/don't like about them will help your technology partner come up to speed quickly.

Step 5: Prioritise Features

Most projects start with a minimum viable product (MVP). If you haven't already come across it I strongly recommend reading Eric Ries' excellent book "The Lean Startup" for anyone looking to build a new product. The concept of an MVP relies on prioritising features aggressively so that you can get something in market as quickly as possible, and begin getting customer feedback as early as you can.

Step 6: Define technical requirements

This includes specifying whether the application needs to run on Android, iOS, in a Browser or all three. But there are a number of other considerations e.g. does it need to work without a continuous WiFi or cellular connection, does it need to work with location based services or geofencing, or does it need to be integrated with other applications or services. Identifying as many of these requirements as possible will help your development team get up to speed quickly.

Step 7: Provide an indication of budget and timeframe

Developing a feature-rich web or mobile application can be a costly exercise so it's important to provide some kind of indication of what you're willing to invest up front.  This will help your developer make some recommendations around what can and can't be delivered and may also guide the selection of a tech stack.

Writing a project brief doesn’t have to be complicated but it's a great first step to engaging with others to help bring your vision to life. Be specific and provide as much information as you can to help bring others on your journey.

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